Things to do and places to eat off our favorite LYNX Blue Line stops

Our first day on the LYNX!

The light rail had me curious, but I never had a reason to ride because I have a car.  The Lynx Blue Line opened for business in 2007 and here we are in 2019 riding it for the first time. We moved to Charlotte in 2006.

Sleek design ,smooth ride on the LYNX Blue Line

This is a perfect example of how blogging and vlogging gets us doing things we might not normally do.  If we weren’t busy being content creator’s we probably would never have given it a try.  I’m really glad we did though because it turned out to be a really cool ride, a mini Charlotte exploration adventure.

Now we get to share places to go and things to do off our favorite LYNX Blue Line stops!

You can purchase your ticket from the vending machine at the station or use the CATS pass App

I actually rode the LYNX twice.  The first ride was with Apache for our vlog day date.  My second ride was during rush hour just to see what it was like.  I wanted to take in the experience of riding with the commuters.

There are currently 11 LYNX Blue Line Park & Ride locations. Which Park & Ride locations are free?  Two out of the eleven will charge a $10 fee if an all-day pass (which means you can ride the train back and forth as many times as you like for $6.60) or a pass of higher value is not purchased.

The two stations that currently charge are the JW Clay Station and University City Blvd. All of the other Park & Ride lots are free.  The stops that have a Park & Ride deck have a on the Lynx Blue Line map so they are easy to find.

Before I get into the meat and potatoes of our favorite LYNX Blue Line stops, I want to share about my commuter experience.

I was definitely feeling the free parking available at the I-485/South Blvd station, it made me feel so welcome!

The Commuter Experience

After parking in the outdoor lot, I followed a group of people moving with a steady intentional pace toward the train.

There were two long stairways leading up to the train. I wasn’t sure if it made any difference which I took so I asked this young girl in route (who looked like a high school student to me, but since she was catching the train I guessed, maybe college). She smiled and informed me that she was headed to work (so now I’m thinking it’s just because of my age that she looks like a baby to me). She told me it didn’t make a difference which flight of stairs I took, “they both lead to the same place.” I followed her to the indoor parking deck across the street to take the elevator up instead.

Apache looks like a LYNX commuter here.

During rush hour everyone seemed calm. The station was very clean and quiet. Surprisingly, there was enough seating for everyone that got on the train.  If I had the choice, I would choose this easy-going train ride over driving in Charlotte’s new nerve-racking traffic any day.

There were only two stops left before I had to get off, my bladder was beginning to make some serious demands on me. I’m sure if I was in my 20s this wouldn’t have been an issue- sigh.

During rush hour periods the LYNX arrives about every 10min

A entire one-way trip took 50 minutes. I simply got off, walked to the other side and rode back to my car. Easy-Peasy!

The temperature on the Blue Line was mild. It was a smooth ride with each stop announced before-hand. This ride would make a perfect time to catch up on some reading or writing.  If you are gonna be hanging out all night visiting different spots near the LYNX, take the light rail back and forth and skip the driving. Who wants to have to look for parking or pay for parking if they don’t have to? ugh.

Now on to the juicy part. Here are a few places we have visited or plan to visit off our favorite LYNX Blue Line stops. All locations listed are within walking distance from the light rail. Try them out for yourself. Let us know what you think about any of the locations mentioned.

Things To Do & Places To Eat

Woodlawn

The Woodlawn and Scaleybark stations are in Mountclaire South/Lower South End.

To Do:

Sleepy Poet Antique Mall– We both appreciate antiques and love vintage clothing and this mall has both! This is a multi-level mall with over 80 dealers. I know we will be enchanted for hours wandering around this mall. We are currently planning a day date to go check it out.

Pexels

Scaleybark

To Do:

Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen– This cooking class sounds like it would make a fun date, girl’s night out or even a solo night out. Learn some new culinary skills. This is definitely on our To Do list!

East/West Blvd Station

This stop is in the South End neighborhood.

Eat/Drink:

Pikes has some delicious American diner style food

Pikes Old Fashioned Soda Shop

Dining out at Pikes Old Fashioned Soda Shop

Superica Tex-Mex Cuisine at it’s best. Superica has become our favorite Mexican food spot. Just thinking about those in-house made chips, perfectly salted…their variety of chip dips that have me singing “oh my God” after each bite, the Margaritas (crying now), the Appetizers are crazy. We had appetizers for dinner and left completely satisfied and wishing we had more money and space in our bellies so we could continue. We enjoyed watching Lady and The Tramp on their xtra-large screen as we happily stuffed our faces. I have checked with others to see if they had the same experience and the feelings were mutual.

Hawkers Asian Street Fare

Hawkers comes highly recommended by friends for street vendor recipes from Asia .

Sunflower Baking Company

Dilworth Tasting Room

Stonewall Station

Stonewall through 9th is considered Uptown

To Do:

The Mint Museum

 The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts +Culture

 The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art 

 Knight Theatre

3rd Street Station/Convention Center

Eat/Drink:

Chima steakhouse–  Brazilian cuisine here-it’s a whole experience!

Chima is expensive but I promise you won’t regret spending a penny. We have been here a couple of times for special occasions and never been disappointed.

The salad bar is super elaborate and the meat is unbelievably good. Expect great service with lots of class. It’s a good idea to starve yourself before going to Chima. You will likely eat a full days worth of calories. Enjoy and don’t forget to wear something loose around the waist!

Charlotte Transportation Center/Arena Station

To Do:

Discovery Place– This is a really colorful and interactive establishment for kids of all ages but also a lot of fun for the adults as well.  We actually went here to play with our family/friends that came to visit from NYC (no small kids at the time only us big ones).

Blumenthal Performing Arts

Spectrum Center

Eat/Drink:

 Sea Level NC -Curious about this place. Apache and I both love seafood and the pics on the website have me salivating and hangry!

7th Street

To Do:

First Ward Park – Apache and I started off at the First Ward Park around 8am. It was abnormally clean first thing in the morning.

Some homeless were still sleeping or just rising from the benches. An older conservative looking male began a rigorous routine using his exercise band and the park equipment. A casual bike rider rode through the spray ground and everything seemed serene on this sun kissed morning.

We did a light workout in First Ward Park -yaay, it’s better than nothing!  First Ward Park has practical stationary equipment available for all your fat burning needs.

First Ward Park is great for walking, biking, chillaxing (made this word up) or exercising!

I love to climb whenever the opportunity arises. Lucky for me it did in the form of dome shaped monkey bars in First Ward Park.

You can climb these monkey ropes as part of your workout or just for fun- we did!

Relaxing after a light First Ward Park workout!

ImaginOn– This library/children’s theatre has something to engage every  adolescent. They have all kinds of programs, classes and theatre productions to inspire imagination and encourage enrichment. We have enjoyed their theatre productions on more than one occasion. Read more about the theatre  here.

Two big kids at ImaginOn in the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte
Levine Museum of the New South

 Levine Museum of the New South– Levine has educational and powerfully moving exhibits. Make sure to take your family.

McColl Center for Art + Innovation– Artist residency and contemporary art space housed in an antiquated church. We love art and it’s free admission!    

Apache and I were ready to see what’s at the next LYNX stop. We walked across the way to the 7th street station and caught the inbound train to 9th.

At the 9th Street Station.

9th Street

Checking out the 9th street station art work.

Eat/Drink:

Walking to waterbean

Waterbean– The first place we visited on 9th street, a USDA certified organic coffee shop and roastery! Humidity was high outside, the air conditioning in Waterbean was such a relief! Waterbean is bright, and airy. Watch our vlog, you’ll see I tried my very first Mochi Ice Cream here. All I have to say is omgah! And our lives will never be the same again.

Having ice coffee with a passion fruit Mochi ice cream on a hot day in Charlotte! Mochi Ice cream is a soft, cool, sweet surprise.

Imagine your favorite ice cream wrapped in a thin powdery marshmallow! How could this exist? In my head I jumped up and down with excitement for the Passion Fruit flavor option-yaaay!

I wanted to try something new and that’s exactly what I got. The Waterbean coffee was great but the Mochi blew my mind. There are other treats too, like brightly colored macaroons. It was a good spot to wind down in.

Subsecreto We still have to visit this spot because I know they serve espresso in a chocolate-dipped shortbread cup… really that’s all I’m interested in- haha!

9th Street Station

After catching our breath at Waterbean we headed back to our light rail stop where a little hell was breaking loose. Some dude was screaming obscenities while smashing the glass covered booth at the station.

We watched the drama from afar with some cool people from Chicago that just arrived in Charlotte for the DuRag festival. They had been zipping around uptown on the motorized scooters everyone is using these days.

The police arrived quick, scooped up the poor disturbed soul and we proceeded with our vlog.

This happened during our LYNX day date.

Parkwood

Parkwood through Sugar Creek station enters the NODA/Optimist Park/Plaza-Shamrock neighborhoods.

Photo by Komadori Photography

Apache and I love old video games from the 80’s and 90’s so we were excited to play at Abari arcade. Bring on the Donkey Kong!

Don’t go here without your ID!  Photo by Komadori Photography

Entering Abari, a man sitting at a table, obviously unwelcoming us with no hello and no smile. He shared a bothered expression as he told us it was $1 to get in and that we also needed ID because it was a private business. I didn’t have ID so we never got in. I shall stop commentary there. Maybe you will have a better experience.

Photo by Komadori Photography
Beautiful graffiti around the corner from Abari. Possible IG photo spot?
More neighborhood artwork!

Drink:

Birdsong Brewing– Since it was a no go at Abari, we shrugged and ran to enjoy some cold specialty beers at Birdsong Brewing!

Photo by Komadori Photography

Photo by Komadori Photography

Some people brought their dogs in with them which I thought was very cool.  I will take every opportunity to rub down and high-pitch baby talk to any dog!

At Birdsong Brewing Company with Komadori Photography

To Do:

Cordelia Park – This park is 24 acres. We took our family swimming here a couple years ago and had a great time. There is also a full basketball court, walking trails and picnic shelter.

Tompkins Hall-Soon to come will be a ginormous food and retail development in this restored textile mill nearby NODA.  There is expected to be multi-level outdoor patios with a view of the uptown skyline. I’m sure it will be interesting.

36th Street Station

The sun was about to hit its peak and we rode the LYNX to 36th street in NODA.

There used to be amazing art Gallery crawls on the first Friday of every month in NODA which we miss dearly. We still love to meet vendors in the street and art can also be found all around NODA giving the neighborhood lots of personality. Breweries, bars and variety in places to eat are plentiful. There are fun things to do and great people to meet here off the 36th street LYNX stop.

If you follow the bright red banisters downstairs you will find thin pastel colored geometric shapes coming up from the ground. In addition, see a large concrete wall sculpted into 3D shaped blooming flowers! All great spots to take IG photos or just admire.

Eat/Drink:

Crepe Cellar Kitchen & Pub– This is a European Gastro Pub. The purpose of this day date was to try out some new places. My spicy Bloody Mary here was on point, no complaints there. One meal was enough to feed both of us. Our final consensus was “delish!” This meal is unique to us, a full gourmet meal wrapped in a thin pancake.

There was all kinds of goodness inside this crepe!


Haberdish
– Although very popular, we have not tried this restaurant yet. There was a line outside the door.

Cabo Fish Taco–  We love their tacos! Their lemon-grilled shrimp tacos are my favorite with a salted Margarita!

At Cabo Fish Taco

NODA Company Store

Smelly Cat Coffeehouse &Roastery– This place is a dope chill spot. It appeals to us for the laid-back ambiance and great coffee. Smelly Cat has seasonal comfort food, breakfast food and a fully stocked cocktail bar- say what?!

To Do:

After you finish your meal, roll yourself down the block to see a show!

The Evening Muse– Casual bar and live music in an intimate setting

The Neighborhood Theatre– Live music venue

Go boutique browsing….

Pura Vida– A cultural gifts store we were grateful to find when we first arrived to this city. This boutique is a breath of fresh air bringing in multi-ethnic merchandise and art from all around the world! I purchased my most favorite bracelet here!

ShopBartique– Enjoy a cocktail or beer while you shop Boho-chic designs for men and women! The owners Estelle and Steve have big hearts and fun personalities, tell them we sent you!

Shop Bartique
Shop Bartique top and cool Disco ring
Apache getting a creative angle in Shop Bartique.
Lovely boutique finds in Shop Bartique
Had to try this one on!

We love how Charlotte invited local artists to get in on making the LYNX Blue Line train stops beautiful.

Blooming flowers at the 36th street station

The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it. ~ Richard Bach

Have the ASC experience in Charlotte,NC

Resident Culture Brewing & Blending

The South has come so far in recognizing the importance of art and international cultural education! Come through ASC (Arts and Science Council) Charlotte celebrating our differences and the values that tether us as a human race. If you haven’t already, make sure to have your ASC experience in Charlotte, NC.

We got to participate in a collaborative paint project in a brewery and take a Djembe lesson for free! The ASC gave us so much fun and brought some new conversation to the table about what we learned. Find great ideas for your next date night or family night on their website.

We learned that ASC Charlotte  (Arts and Science Council) is continually providing sponsored cultural opportunities and exposure to art for the community throughout the year. On the website you will find a list of ongoing activities to explore for couples and families in Mecklenburg County. 

The ASC experience we attended is called Connect with Culture, an annual event that takes place every January. Everyone gets to enjoy Connect with Culture’s festivities regardless of weather they are rolling in dough or broke because it’s free! Yaaay ASC!

One of the many ASC free experiences held throughout the Mecklenburg was held at the Resident Culture Brewery in Charlotte, NC.

This Brewery is HUGE! I’m loving the space.

The Brewery:  

Apache and I have never been to Resident Culture Brewery on Central Ave. before, therefore we didn’t know what to expect. 

We were pleasantly surprised at how spacious this bar is.  We both admired the fine wood furniture in and outside on the sizable deck. There are tall heated lamps so we could stand outside with a beer and mingle. There were even outdoor fireplaces so people can still gather outside on chillier days. 

Cozy outdoor sitting corner with a fire place!

We loved meeting other people’s dogs at Resident Culture . This is a dog friendly brewery and Nikia loves the dogs! 

This brewery had loads of board games available in case anybody wanted to play. There were also ping pong machines if that floats your boat. We thought it was so cute, this couple enjoying a game of cards while their baby French Bull dog danced around their ankles.  This seems like a great place to hang out! 

More space- Resident Culture front porch.

All the wood counters and tables used for this rustic decor was beautiful.

Some Options …..

We also noticed a beautifully lit Barrel Room for producing barrel aged beers and found out that this area may be rented for events.  On our date night we got to enjoy Drums 4 Life interactive experience in this lovely space courtesy of the ASC. But, Resident Culture Brewery plans to continue hosting many great interactive events here for the community.  

Welcome to the Barrel Room!

Still in the Barrel room.

You guessed it! This is still the Barrel Room! Lol

Painting:  

The ASC experience in Charlotte, NC orchestrated a multi-brewery paint project! Many breweries around town participated in the collaborative painting project of Queen Charlotte! 

Emily Andress developed the master plan for each brewery to have a large wooden puzzle piece to paint. At the end of the evening, all of the puzzle pieces would be joined to make one complete abstract portrait. The portrait would then be presented at the Mint Museum on the next day!  Pretty cool!

Jean Cauthen led our painting experience at Resident Culture Brewing.  The ASC brings people together and allows us to have fun while learning, best idea! 

I couldn’t believe I was in a bar painting! What a way to upgrade the bar scene!  I noticed how participating in a creative activity really got me out of my head and into the moment, what a gift.  If you watch the vlog of this evening you will see what part of the painting I did!  Apache really enjoyed watching how happy this made me.

Completed collaborative paint project of Queen Charlotte presented at the Mint Museum!

Food Trucks:   

There were food trucks at each participating brewery!  Owww (in my Cardi B. voice)!

The Dumpling Lady truck was parked in front of Resident Culture so we had to see what those dumplings were all about!  Someone else on line had mentioned that the pork and Chive dumplings were really good. They left out that the dumplings were also super spicy!  

Thank goodness we both love spice. Along with that spice was an abundance of flavor and we really enjoyed that meal together.  Apache and I sat at a long beautiful wooden picnic like table inside Resident Culture Brewery. During dinner, we got to meet some other people while Resident Culture played some cool old school music.  

While we enjoyed our dumplings we conversed with a woman who talked about her mom being a Radio City Rockette when she was a child.  We also got to meet a mom who was there with her son to expose him to the drum circle.  Her adorable son, about the age of 10, sat staring into his phone intently. He looks up briefly when we mention that we were YouTube Vloggers. The boy’s mom then states “He loves YouTube.” 

It was great to meet new and interesting people on our date.  I am happy to report that after the event the Mom told us that her son took part in and really enjoyed the Drum Circle!

Attend one of their free classes! I promise you will have so much fun!

Drum Circle:  

The ASC experience in Charlotte also included a free African Drum Circle class! Commence Drums 4 Life!!! 

I was just standing around in the bar chillin, minding my own business, taking in my atmosphere while Apache ran to the bathroom. All of a sudden, this rhythmic tumbling thunder rolled in behind me! It echoed throughout this entire sizable brewery and I quickly turned to catch the action. 

Lead instructor and father Kojo Bey and his three young sons played their African drums in perfect sync!  Apache had the camera in the bathroom so I whipped out my trusty cell phone and got what I could of their impactful entrance!  At this time Apache returned and we follow their sound. Drums 4 Life maneuver all around us onlookers engaging and intriguing us all! 

Once our excitement is peaked, they stop and everyone is cheers!   The experience continues in the Barrel Room where Drums 4 Life set out a plentiful array of Djembe and Dunun drums along with other small complimentary instruments to engage the audience.

Djembe (jem-bay) is an instrument originally from West Africa. The name Djembe comes from the saying “everyone gather together in peace.”The Dunun (dun dun) drums are played with sticks.

For this occassion people gathered from all over the world from different religions, nationalities and cultures in peace, enjoying a moment together and learning together. 

I thought “this is what life is all about.” I felt joy to be a part of the human race. In my body I felt excitement and connection from the beautiful sounds. There also was a feeling of gratitude to be a part of this special experience.  Check for Drums 4 Life on Instagram @drums4lifeorg and join a circle!

We won’t forget this date!  Make sure to seek out new types of experiences and learning opportunities. See what type of discoveries and great times they lead to!

“All the world is my school and humanity is my teacher.” – George Whitman